Being a Better Improviser makes you a better person…and swearing like a sailor makes you a better improviser.

I’ve had an ongoing conversation with Isaac about the F-word.  The irony is that he claims that it’s lost all its meaning.  I know what he means; it can be used in so many circumstance that it often doesn’t actually seem to mean anything.  The truth is that without a denotation, it’s now just an offensive word.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t mean offensive in the sense of “Causing anger, displeasure, resentment, or affront”; I’m certainly not offended by it.  I mean offensive in the sense of “An attitude or position of attack”.  At this point in time it’s connotative aggressiveness is more pervasive than it’s original denotation.  If I was to define “the f–k” (as in “shut the f–k up”), I would define it as “aggressively”.

…and this is why dropping the F-Bomb makes me a better improviser.  My improv coach has been trying to get me to be more emotionally aggressive.  I feel that I am emotionally attached, but it’s at an emotional 5 and he wants me to be an emotional 8 or 9.  This is where the F-omb helps.  Instead of, “I’m annoyed at your behavior.” try “Your behavior f–king annoys me.”  Instead of “I love you.” try “I f–king love you.”  Instead of “That’s weird.” try “That’s f–ked up.”  After that my acting senses kick in.  I guess this would make me an outside-in kind of actor.  Dropping the F-Bomb just makes my emotions more aggressive, which is what Scott is looking for.  Is it a crutch?  Maybe.  Will Isaac ever come to another improv show?  I hope so.  Should you take this advice in real life?  Probably not.

“…but, Jason,” you might be saying, “you always say that being a better improviser makes you a better person.  Shouldn’t I swear like a sailor in real life?”

Well, it really depends on the situation.  I wouldn’t drop the F-bomb on my wife in the midst of an argument or recommend that you use it to describe what do do after meeting a young lady at a bar; in these cases it’s almost always too aggressive.  As a way to catalyze one’s emotions when you only have a couple of minutes to build a scene the F-Bomb can be useful, but in real life you can take you time to build the appropriate level of emotions.  In fact the most emotional moment of my life would have been the most inappropriate moment to drop the F-bomb.

“Do you, Jason, take Becky to be your wife, to have and to hold…”

“F–k yeah!”

That being said there are rules of improv that also make for good communication with your loved ones.  I’m not sure if I learned them from Mrs. T-Z and applied them to improv or vice versa, but in any event the connection was made.

Arguments are generally bad in improv and aren’t very much fun in a relationship.  Most people want to solve the argument, not live in it, so here are some ways to get out of them in both improv and relationships:

1) Apologize.  This is probably the hardest because it has to be sincere and it has to be specific.  Don’t apologize for anything you’re not sorry for.  If you can’t find anything you’re sorry for, you can always apologize for upsetting your partner.  Mrs. T-Z and I have realized that we might not be sorry for the thing that made the other upset, but we’re always sorry that it upset them…and that’s good for them to hear.  In an improv scene it takes a scene with people wanting separate goals to a scene where they are working together…even if they still have separate goals.

2) Recognize your partner.  Sometimes your partner says something to you that you find insulting.  Recognize (I mean out loud; use your words.) that your partner is intelligent and cares about you, and see if you can figure out what they meant, not what they said.  In improv, even if you’re arguing with your scene partner (which is not always bad), it’s good to dignify your partner’s character with intelligence and empathy.

3) Say “I love you.”  It’s always good to say to your romantic partner, and usually gives you a really funny scene in improv.  Try it!  It works!

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2 Responses to Being a Better Improviser makes you a better person…and swearing like a sailor makes you a better improviser.

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Jason. It is hilarious that you have written an entire post celebrating your newfound comfort with throwing out the ‘f-word,’ yet you still feel compelled to type it out as the ‘f-word.’

  2. jtyne says:

    See? I really am terrible at irony! 🙂

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